What’s The Deal?: Fighting After A Clean Hit Without Instigator Penalty


It has been an issue of mine for a  long time, and it happened again last night.  A player delivers a clean hit, and then has to answer the bell and drop the gloves to defend himself.

With all the talk about honor, codes and the like, why should a player who does his job within the confines of the rules of the game have to look over his shoulder every time he makes a hit to see if some overzealous teammate of the guy you laid out is coming after you.

If only there was a rule to curb this action in the rule book. Surely there must be if the NHL is putting their focus on the fact that a player’s sweater is inside his pants, right.

Sep 21, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason (6) and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jarred Tinordi (24) fight during the first period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Of course there is, it’s just rarely called.  Its the instigator rule, and last night’s incident between Jarred Tinordi of the Habs and Tim Gleason of the Hurricanes should have been a prime example of where the rule in enforced.

Tinordi laid out Carolina captain Eric Stall with a perfectly clean hit at the Cane’s blue line, from the side, with his hands down.  A textbook hit, not dirty, predatory, or vicious by any means.  Just a young defenseman doing his job to try and earn a full time NHL spot. On the ensuing faceoff, Gleason comes after Tinordi and forces him to fight.  Credit Tinordi for not backing down, but he shouldn’t have had to defend himself in the first place.  Tinordi didn’t ask for it, and didn’t have much say in the matter.  That type of play is the ideal situation to have an insitgator called, but of course in the NHL’s infinite wisdom, apparently this wasn’t a case where the officials deemed Gleason to be the agressor.  The puck drops, Gleason doesn’t even pay attention to the puck, and makes a bee-line right for Tinordi.

The NHL needs to start enforcing the rules in the book before introducing asinine new ones, or they are going to become the laughingstock of professional sports.  There is a problem somewhere in the system, whether it be at the league level or the officials themselves on the enforcement of the instigator rule.  If the league wants to remove the emphasis on fighting, call more instigator penalties to make sure that the situations where a fight occurs is indeed a necessary opportunity where a player thinks taking the extra 2 minutes and putting his team at a disadvantage for 2 minutes is worth it.